Memory Work:
A Guide for ELCA Congregational Archives and History

ELCA Region 3 Congregational Record Microfilming Program

Realizing both the value and the irreplaceable nature of congregational records, filming of ELCA congregational records in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota is now being overseen by the ELCA Region 3 Archives. After considerable study into the cost of equipment and staffing, it is clear that the congregations of Region 3 would be best served by using a private company for the filming of congregational records. Ringberg Microfilming has been selected for this work. This company comes highly recommended both for the care they take with church records and for their commitment to archival quality filming. The Region 3 Archives will coordinate the filming process between the congregations and the Ringberg Microfilming.

What Should Congregations Film?

In order to remain consistent with the types of material filmed in the past congregations should film their "basic records." These include:

  1. The ministerial or membership book of official acts; for example, baptisms, marriages and funerals.
  2. The agenda, reports and minutes of the congregation's annual meeting.

It is the decision of the congregation whether or not to have additional material filmed. Records of former congregations which have either merged with your congregation or disbanded should be included for filming. For the sake of clarity it is important to indicate this situation when the records are sent for filming.

Ringberg Microfilming assures that they can photocopy and send information from the church records that may be needed by the church while the records are being filmed. It is assumed, however, that the records sent are non-current, that is, not used in the church office on a regular basis. The normal amount of time required for the filming process is 4-6 weeks.

Cost to the Congregation

The estimated costs of filming congregational records are included in the accompanying price list from the filmer. The cost of filming will be the responsibility of the congregation. Congregations are asked to send or to deliver their records to the ELCA Region 3 Archives in St. Paul. I will see that the records are taken to Ringberg Microfilming.

The congregation will receive their records, a positive copy (viewer copy) of the film and an invoice directly from Ringberg Microfilming. The Region 3 Archives will receive the master negative of the film for permanent storage. The final sheet in this section is the order form. It should be used for providing all of the necessary information to the filmer for the list of records, for the titles (also called "targets") and for billing.

Additional Considerations

Those congregations who have had other records filmed by one of the predecessor church bodies should indicate this when additional records are sent for filming. We want to avoid unnecessary duplication of filming.

Summary of Process

  1. Collect records to be filmed and include on the lower portion of the order form any instructions, titles ("targets") and dates that will help the filmer.
  2. Fill out remaining portions of order form for Ringberg Microfilming and include with the records.
  3. Mail or personally deliver to ELCA Region 3 Archives at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. Please call ahead if you will be bringing the records in personally.
  4. The Archives staff will deliver the records to Ringberg Microfilming with your instructions and order form.
  5. Expect the filming process to take 4-6 weeks. Your records, one microfilm viewer copy and the invoice will be sent UPS to you by Ringberg Microfilming. If you choose not to have your records sent UPS please indicate this on the order form, or by telephone to Paul Daniels.

I will be happy to help with any questions you may have about the filming program. Please call me at 651- 641-3205 or write to me at the ELCA Region 3 Archives, 2481 Como Avenue, St. Paul. Minnesota. 55108; e-mail:

Paul A. Daniels
Archivist, ELCA Region 3
Archivist, Luther Seminary


Memory Work: A Guide for ELCA Congregational Archives and History is prepared by Paul Daniels, Archivist and Curator of the Luther Seminary and ELCA Region3 Archives. ©1991, Revised 1998, 2001 and 2003. Reproduction and sharing is permitted, provided this credit is included.